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Dr. Terry Cross: Honorary Degree Recipient 2015
Dr. Terry Cross: Honorary Degree Recipient 2015

Terry L. Cross, MSW, ACSW, LCWS, is an enrolled member of the Seneca Nation. He received his masters degree in social work from Portland State in 1977 and served as adjunct faculty in the School of Social Work for 25 years. During his 40 year career he has worked passionately and tirelessly to improve policies and services for American Indian children and communities. 

Terry is the founding executive director of National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA), a policy and advocacy organization for Indian children and their families. He recently testified before the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Geneva, Switzerland on the negative impact to Indigenous children when removed from their families, communities, nations and culture.

Terry has authored numerous articles, chapters, and reports dedicated to improving the lives of Indian children, including Heritage and Helping and Positive Indian Parenting curricula and Cross-Cultural Skills in Indian Child Welfare. He has made creative scholarly contributions to the social work field by his early definition and explication of the term “cultural competency.” He co-authored “Toward a Culturally Competent System of Care” published by Georgetown University in 1989. In addition to his advocacy and research achievements, he has spent 10 years working directly with children and families in an agency setting.

In 2009, Terry received the Civic Engagement Award for Excellence in Community-Based Research from Portland State University. In 2010, he was a finalist for the Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award. In June 2011, Terry received the prestigious Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps’ “Embracing the Legacy” award at the Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston, where he was honored for “working tirelessly on behalf of American Indian and Alaskan Native children and families to develop and improve child welfare programs and for providing advocacy and helping to implement effective public policy.” In 1999 Terry was named a Portland State University Alumni of the year.

Mr. Cross is a Senior Fellow of the American Leadership Forum and recently served on the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Advisory Council. He currently serves on the National Congress of American Indians Policy Research Center Advisory Board and is the President of the Native Ways Federation. He has organized culturally specific services, training curricula, and technical assistance programs and developed culturally
based models for social work practice, research, and organizational development.